Ministry of Education announces plans for distance learning

The second school term officially restarts on 15 April while the 4 week lockdown is still going. The Ministry of Education is gearing up for providing working from home resources including mailed out paper packs targeting different age groups plus two TV broadcast channels.

RNZ: Ministry of Education reveals support plans for distance learning

Education Minister Chris Hipkins said while the plan was still for a four-week lockdown, schools must be prepared for any scenario.

That requires the means and resources to study properly home, Hipkins said.

“We’re moving so that all families will have at least one education delivery option available to them when term two starts,” he said.

It sounds like the are preparing for weeks if not months of school pupils working from home.

“The ministry has surveyed schools and about half say they are well set up currently for distance learning using the internet. But we are taking action to support new connections and resources for students at all schools.”

From this week a package targeting four areas will be rolled out:

  • Increasing the number of students who have internet access and devices.
  • Delivering hard copy packs of materials for different year levels.
  • Funding two television channels to broadcast education-related content – one for English medium and one for Māori medium, including content that is targeted to Pacific and other communities.
  • More online resources for parents, available through the Learning from Home and Ki te Ao Mārama websites, and fast-tracking ways to connect Learning Support Coordinators with families remotely.

Schools will also get more support to to assist schools to set up and make the best use of distance learning, and teachers and leaders will get access to more professional learning and development (PLD) to support them to work remotely with their students.

This will complement the efforts schools are making to provide work at home for pupils (that is already being done by some schools at least).

From Stuff Live:

He (Hipkins) said as schools are preparing for term two, he wanted to assure people that they’re preparing for all possible scenarios.

Hipkins said the goal is that all families have at least one channel of learning support by April 15.

When asked if this style of learning will continue after we leave alert level four, he said the Ministry of Education is actively engaged in the planning beyond level four lockdown and they’re working through all different scenarios.

He said people shouldn’t assume that all schools and ECE will open on day one post-lockdown.

He said there’ll be further announcements about what happens at the end of level four lockdown in due course.

The NCEA review package is helping contribute to the work that’s being done at the moment, particularly around the online delivery of it. Hipkins said they’re progressing this.
Other parts around long term work of the review are on the backburner.
On the topic of the educational channels. Hipkins said some content will be drawn from existing catalogues, some will be bridging, and some will be new. He said there’ll be some familiar faces returning to TV.


Partnership schools “mostly good”

A generally positive report card for the controversial (in the Labour Party) partnership schools (charter schools).

RNZ: NZ’s charter schools given good report card

Most of the first eight charter schools are good at teaching and testing children from Māori, Pasifika and poor backgrounds, an independent evaluation says.

The report (PDF, 2.8MB) by the firm Martin Jenkins for the Education Ministry said most of the children enrolled in the schools were from high-priority backgrounds and many had previous problems with achievement and attendance.

“All schools/kura report that high proportions of their students have poor achievement histories and are achieving below the age/stage-related standards that could be expected on entry to the school/kura,” it said.

It said the schools showed mostly good and in some cases innovative practice in their approaches to working with the children.

It also said their assessment practices were good.

“We are confident that all of the schools/kura are either already delivering, or are on a path towards delivering, assessment practice that is ‘good’ or ‘very good’ overall.”

The report said literacy and numeracy dominated the curriculum of all of the schools and most had average or lower than average class sizes.

It said in 2015 most of the schools met or exceeded their contracted targets for student attendance, engagement and achievement.

The evaluation said most of the schools said their reporting requirements were burdensome, and some said they had unresolved contract issues and/or a complex relationship with their key partner, the Education Ministry.

“These issues have at times diverted attention and resources away from delivery,” it said.

This adds to the debate over partnership schools, especially within the Labour Party.

Also at RNZ: Charter school opens for business

A new charter kura says some of its students have come to its classes because they were close to being kicked out of their old schools.

Te Kura Māori o Waatea in Auckland officially opened for business today.

The school is operated by the Manukau Urban Maori Authority, while its head is the broadcaster and former politician Willie Jackson.

“You know, sometimes we’ve got to be bigger than our parties, and it’s not about Labour, sometimes, and it’s not about national, and it’s not about ACT.

“As you said, David, it’s about our kids: the kaupapa is the main thing here.

“You either get involved or you get out”.

The kura’s tūmuaki, Tania Rangiheuea, said some of her pupils had been in trouble with other teachers in the past.

“A lot of our children have come here because they were on the verge of getting kicked out of their school.

“Some of them have behavioural problems – not all of them – most of them are really, really good kids and I love them.

It is her first time leading a school; previously she has been a lecturer at Victoria University.

She said the kura’s philosophical approach to education involves the whole lives of students and whānau – not just the time pupils spent in the classroom.

Tania Rangiheuea said her people were good at finding out what makes the tamariki tick.

“I have a full time Whānau Ora navigator attached to the kura; she goes in and works with the families.

“For example, I had two children from one household who for two days didn’t come to school, and when I found out when they didn’t come to school they had no lunch.”

Charter Schools mistake

A wee mistake in a media statement by David Seymour was picked up by the Greens without realising that it was a mistake.

Under-Secretary to the Minister of Education
18 July 2016 2:24 pm Media Statement
Seymour announces fourth Partnership Schools application round

Under-Secretary to the Minister of Education David Seymour has announced a fourth round of applications to establish Partnership Schools | Kura Hourua (Partnership Schools). The fourth round will open in August, with successful Partnership Schools opening in 2018.

“The continuing growth of this policy reflects the achievement of the eight existing Partnership Schools, and the strong levels of interest educators and community leaders are showing in the Partnership Schools model and what it offers students and their families,” Mr Seymour says.

“In the latest application round we received 26 applications, which easily exceeded the available funding. I expect a high number of applications in round four as well.”

All innovative proposals are welcome. However, preference will be given to proposals that:

• make effective use of the model’s flexibilities

• offer innovative solutions for 0-8 year olds

• are large enough to be comfortably viable

• target students who are not well served by the education system

• bring together effective education, community or business partnerships

• have a focus on science, technology, maths and engineering (STEM)

• are not existing private schools seeking to convert to a Partnership School

Greens were quick to react, as they often are:

Monday, 18 July 2016, 4:08 pm
Press Release: Green Party

‘Charter schools for babies’ a bad deal for Kiwi kids

The Government’s plan to expand its charter-school experiment into Early Childhood Education will put children’s learning development at risk from an even earlier age, the Green Party said today.

The fourth round of applications to establish more charter schools was announced today by ACT MP David Seymour, and will prioritise funding for organisations that cater to children from the ages of 0-8 years.

“Early childhood education is critical to a child being ready for school and it is reckless for the Government to put that at risk for the sake of an ideological experiment,” Green Party education spokesperson Catherine Delahunty said today.

“Targeting toddlers and babies for educational experimentation seems extreme, even for the ACT Party.

“Having Government-funded charter schools for toddlers and babies is another business opportunity for a few, but won’t help improve the quality of early childhood education across the board.

“Funding for education is great, but it needs to be backed up with accountability and oversight. Unfortunately, existing charter schools have shown that they are unable to provide this.

“Complaints about cultural awareness for Māori students, having far fewer students than contracted for, rewarding students with KFC, and student safety concerns are just some of the issues with current charter schools.

“It is disturbing to see that the Government is prepared to sell out more kids in order to secure the support of the sole Act MP, David Seymour.

“The state school system ends up having to pick up the pieces when these experiments go wrong, and it is children’s education that suffers.

“A greater investment needs to go into public schools that need it, not these experimental, and unproven charter schools,” said Ms Delahunty.

But the mistake was spotted once this went out.

Correction [5pm]: An error in a press release from David Seymour indicated that the Government’s charter school programme would be expanded into education for 0-8 year olds. This is not the case. Please disregard the below media release.

I believe that “offer innovative solutions for 0-8 year olds” should have referred to years 0-8. Even year 0 is a bit odd.

However toddlers and babies have been targeted for educational experimentation for years now with major changes to early childhood education.

Longstone’s letter

Outgoing CEO of the Ministry of Education asnd Secretary of Education Lesley Longstone’s letter to staff prior to the announcement of her resignation:

Dear colleague, at noon today Iain Rennie, the State Services Commissioner, will be announcing my resignation from the position of Chief Executive of the Ministry of Education and Secretary for Education. This has been an extremely difficult decision for me and one that I want you to understand.

2012 was, without doubt, a very challenging year for the ministry. The extent of change has been great and in more than a few cases, controversial.

At the same time, we can look back proudly on a number of achievements that would not have been possible without the commitment and hard work of so many talented people working here in the ministry. I know that so many of you have gone the extra mile and I am so grateful for the support I have had over the past year.

Just to re-cap some of those achievements: continuing increases in participation in early childhood education, the reporting to parents of National Standards data for the first time and continued improvement, particularly for our priority groups, in NCEA outcomes.

The changes to the Resource Teachers Learning and Behaviour service and the expansion of Positive Behaviour for Learning programmes offer real promise to some of our more needy learners and the development of the intensive wrap-around service offers new opportunities for children with special needs to be supported to learn in their home communities.

We have spoken out about the social inequity inherent in our education system and begun to re-focus the work of the Ministry and our support for ECE services, schools and other providers on those children and young people who are not realising their potential.

The development of new pathways to support transitions from school to tertiary study or work is a very significant achievement. We have begun to build better links with communities, iwi and social sector agencies, to ensure that in focussing on these young people we bring everyone to the table that has a contribution to make.

These are important foundations that will position us well to achieve the Government’s Better Public Service goals for education and vulnerable children.

Internally, we have re-structured and appointed four new Regional Directors. We have established task forces to drive ahead on our key outcomes and are working ever closer with other agencies in the education sector as well as the wider social and economic sectors. I am very pleased to have made four new appointments to the Leadership Team, bringing in different areas of expertise to complement those of existing members and strengthening our leadership of the Ministry going forward. With our regional change programme in its early stages we are poised to make significant change to our service delivery model, designed to support better outcomes for learners and a more streamlined service offering for providers.

But despite our best endeavours, and I do really appreciate the efforts of those involved in these areas, not everything in 2012 has gone smoothly and there has been real disquiet relating to a range of issues including Budget 2012 proposals, Christchurch and Novopay. The accumulation of these and other things has led to deterioration in relationships with a number of important stakeholders.

This isn’t a sustainable position and following very careful thought and discussion, Iain and I have decided that the best interests of the ministry would be served bythe appointment of a new chief executive unencumbered by the difficulties of the past 6 months who is able to focus on, and re-build those relationships.

I hope that you will see and embrace this as the opportunity it is. I will return from my Christmas break on 22 January and will continue in my role until 8 February next year when a new interim Chief Executive will be appointed.

All that really remains is for me to thank you for your support over the past year or so and to hope that you, like me, will find real peace in the Christmas season. I look forward to thanking as many of you as I can personally, before I depart and I hope you will welcome Peter in the same generous way as you welcomed me.